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U.S. needs ‘bivocational pastor movement’

PHOENIX (BP)–Small churches and bivocational pastors are a Great Commission powerhouse, a North American Mission Board leader told the Bivocational Small Church Leadership Network during the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.

“Everything that we’re doing is to reposition the North American Mission Board to get behind local churches, because you are the pacesetters,” Aaron Coe, NAMB’s VP for mobilization, told several dozen small church and bivocational pastors at the BSCLN luncheon June 14.

“The only way we’re going to reach North America and the world is if we have a bivocational pastor movement,” Coe said.

“If you add up all the 50 largest mega-churches, add up total attendance and they all moved to New York City, you’d only be reaching 8 percent of the population there,” Coe said. “The only way it’s going to get done is through people who will rise up and step out.

“What you are doing is vital. It’s actually the backbone of what we do. We realize that and we’re passionate about that. The only way we’ll do it is if every man who meets the biblical qualification for pastor is released to pastor. The church of the future will look more and more like what you guys are doing.”

Coe, who planted The Gallery Church in New York City, said all shapes and sizes of churches will be needed to reach the nation — from small towns to urban areas.

Southern Baptist bivocational pastors often balance two careers — starting or shepherding a church while working another equally demanding fulltime job. This frees up the pastor and the church to do its ministry without as much financial constraint. Most bivocational pastors lead small to mid-sized churches.

Ray Gilder, national coordinator for the Bivocational Small Church Leadership Network, noted, “One of the goals we’ve had in our organization over the years has been to raise the level of awareness and appreciation for bivocational pastors. And it is happening.

“We are planting our lives in areas and pockets where we can’t afford to send someone but must rely on bivocational pastors to reach those communities with the Gospel.”
Adam Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.

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